Park Renovation Projects Delayed

The Playground

Groundbreaking for the new $3.25 million Helen Diller Playground in Dolores Park has been pushed back till Fall.

Helen Diller Playground Plans

Mary Hobson, Rec and Parks project manager, Capital Improvement Division told us, “I just received an updated schedule from the landscape architect working on the playground project. Design is scheduled to be completed in late May. It typically takes us three to four months to solicit bids, award and certify a contract, and then get the contractor out and ready to start work.” We can now plan for the playground to close in October and construction to begin soon thereafter. It will hopefully reopen in April or May of 2011.

Park managers have been told that once construction on the playground begins, we should expect much of the south end of the park to be fenced off for eight months.

Old but still fun

The Friends of Dolores Park Playground have been working for a total renovation of the playground for some time. Their vision, the construction of a new “World Class” playground with an emphasis on natural materials, is soon to be a reality. The Friends group have secured a private grant for up to $1.5 million to help with the cost.

Nancy Gonzales-Madinsky, the Friends group chair has told us that there were some items on their wish list that did not fit the budget, a wind sculpture was one.  The group has decided to go ahead and include these “Bling Bling” features in the final plans and are now seeking private funding to cover the $250 thousand shortfall.

Park turf management pros were brought in last fall to lend there skills to the brown and dusty playing field.

Planning for a greater Dolores Park renovation is slated to begin shortly. Hobson tells us that, “We are going through the bond sale process right now. In fact the Board of Supervisors process is kicking off on Wednesday. If all goes well, I hope to have designers ready to start working right away.”

This renovation is authorized to include the courts, field, and clubhouse; restoration of existing roads and pathways; upgrades to subsurface infrastructure, irrigation and lighting; modifications to the site to remove barriers and improve accessibility, and overall reconditioning of the park landscape. Construction should start in December 2011.

Much of the park will be fenced off for this project according to park representatives. Hobson believes that her original estimate of 16 months may be too much and it could now be “substantially less” now that the playground is being handled as a separate project.

Community meetings on the greater $11.7 million renovation of the park are expected to begin in late May or June of this year. We can expect three public meetings over the course of  four months.

So, it looks like we may have the new playground open in Spring 2011 and the greater park fenced off  for the winter and spring of 2011-2012, at least. It’s hard to believe that we could go a day without our beloved Dolores, but even she needs a remodel. What may be even harder to do is create a common vision of what Dolores Park should look like when all the dust settles. As one prominent park neighbor told me, this is a renovation that needs to last for 30, 40 or 50 years. We need to build a park that can adapt to future changes.

Dolores Park Works will be there every step of the way and will keep you apprised. We hope you’ll get involved in the process. Until then, tell us what would you like to see in a rejuvenated Dolores Park?

About Robert Brust

Dolores Park Works Co-founder
2 comments
Deneb Meketa
Deneb Meketa

I lived next to the park for 5 years, and I kept thinking: shouldn't there be a patch of artificial turf for the soccer players? No natural surface will stand up to that kind of daily use. Has anyone asked them whether they'd prefer an artificial surface to the dirt patch they play on now? Would the planning authorities be receptive to an artificial soccer pitch? Has this been discussed?

Robert Brust
Robert Brust

Deneb- Yes lush, green synthetic turf lawns are popping up all over the city. Garfield and Franklin parks in the mission all ready have news soccer artificial turf pitches. And a synthetic field will replace the asphalt at Mission Playground. All this work is being supported with private funds raised by the City Fields Foundation.
Check out their web site. I believe Dolores Park has been passed over by rec and park and City Fields once before.